Over 97% of business owners acknowledge that online reputation management is among their most important branding factors a business should care for. Given the numbers, online reputation management is not an approach to ignore. But, do business owners understand what online reputation entails, how to manage and safeguard it from possible harm?
Before customers choose to do business with you, they look up your brand name on the Internet. Then, their decisions hang on what they find. This means as an entrepreneur, organization or business, your online footprint has a great influence.
What Is Online Reputation Management?
Online reputation management, also known as ORM, involves monitoring what your prospects see when they look you up online and taking effective actions to alleviate your brand image.
Major ORM activities involve controlling the online reputation of your business on search engines, social media and customer review platforms.
Why Is Online Reputation Management Important?
Negative articles, reviews and ratings online harm businesses. According to research, 67% of buyers rely on online reviews and one negative review drives away 22% of your prospects. Two negative ratings double the loss to 44% and you risk losing 60% with three negative articles. Controlling your online reputation is vital because:
i. Random People Can Publish Info About Your Brand Online, Whether It’s True or False
Everybody has the right to express their opinions about your brand via any online media without interference. However, there exist specific boundaries people cannot cross. For example, it is illegal to publish information if:
- It offers false and misleading information
- Defamatory language is evident
- The information’s sole purpose is to damage your brandy’s reputation
See, if you anger, for instance, your workers, ex or colleagues, they can rubbish you online. Some situations are not protected by laws; thus, the need to defend your brand form such crises.
ii. There Is Need of ORM Tools Since Your Online Footprint Is Indelible
If there is one component as an entrepreneur you can’t overlook is your online footprint. Remember that we thrive in a search-happy generation. Also, your online footprint has a big effect, for better or for worse.
Technology can now track and store all your online activity. As a new CEO in a high-flying corporation, what would you do if a scary private email you sent your colleague many years surfaced online? ORM tactics and tools play a huge role in such uncalled-for incidents.
iii. Valuable Content Online Is Key, But Many Brand Owners Cannot Hack This
Today’s economy is getting more competitive every sunrise. Employers, customers and partners are scouring the web searching for information – positive or negative about you. Many people are yet to learn how to surge their positive online footprint and this guide reveals everything you need to know when looking to build a better reputation online.
iv. Buyers Decisions Depend on What They Find After Searching Your Brand Online
You risk losing your business if customers bump into bad reviews about you online. In the corporate world, 80% of decision-makers search about your brand online before getting into business with you. Since the majority make judgements about you depending on your online presence, a solid ORM strategy is important.
Understanding how to control and protect your web reputation and taking effective actions is essential especially in this era of hate forums, revenge porn, cyber-bullying and shaky online privacy laws. Here is a guide for entrepreneurs, small business and corporate on how to effectively manage their online reputation.
Mop up Your Existing State
Have no idea how to develop your ORM strategy? Begin by looking yourself up on search engines. What information do you find on the SERPs about you? Do you find inappropriate and bad stuff that might be used against you by competitors or clients?
If possible, delete them immediately. Use effective tools like Brand Yourself to review your social media history. Brand Yourself is an industry-standard Social Scanner that flags possible negative updates through innovative technology like natural language processing and machine learning.
Build A Reputable Website
With over 1.7 billion live websites on the world wide web as at now, no one could oppose that a quality website is fundamental to the achievement of your brand online. Your website is like an information hub where prospects, referrals, investors and decision-makers learn about you online.
For business persons, a solid website is very essential. Note that you are not forever tied to one company or employer. You want to have an online presence to build strong identity capital as you heighten your business.
A good website consists of elements such as:
i. Your brand name in the URL
This is especially important to rank top in SERPs (like www [dot] brandname [dot] com).
ii. An About Us Page Is A Must
It’s best if you write the description from a third-person perspective at the same time including your brand name. Place your brand name naturally on the webpage for better ranking on search engines.
iii.Include an Active Element to Your Business Website
Examples of active elements that work include a blog, news section, forum or press page. Offer valuable content of these pages with reference to your business. While you want to rank better on Google, valuable info increases your credibility to prospects.
iv. Don’t Leave Out A Call to Action
You want prospects to convert into buyers. You want to receive calls from clients. You want clients to sign up for your updates. Call-to-action (CTA) drives prospects to the direction you want. Make your intended CTA clear and concise.
v. Let Customers Reach You with Ease
Being reachable does not mean that you should give out your personal number or email. You can install a contact form on your website. Also, you can place links to your social media accounts. Big deals might be leaving on the table when you cannot be reached by prospects.
Reserve You Brand Name on Social Media Channels
Ranking among the first 10 results is not enough to prove your reputation on the web is positive. There exist other strategies that you should act on to hold a positive reputation online.
Some prospects will look up your name on social media platforms. Open accounts in authoritative social media channels. Classic platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are essential ingredients when looking to reserve your name online. Don’t leave out lesser-used forums like SlideShare, Crunchbase and Quora. Avoid absurd usernames! Use names clients are likely to search for online.
You might assume your business is running so well that social media campaigns are unnecessary. If this sounds like you, it’s time you dumped this mindset. See social media presence like digital insurance.
See, if prospects care about your services and/ or products they will want to see your online activity. Social media is the first among the first avenues potential buyers visit to learn about your operations.
Social media has evolved and it’s a top tool to create brand awareness, generate and drive leads, and attract investors. Purpose to reserve your brand name on social media with high traffic before another business grabs it.
After profiles creation, it’s time to optimize them. Include as much information as you can about your brand for maximum visibility and SEO value.
Offer Consistent Value Online
Ranking and remaining top position on Google is one thing and proving that your content provides value to the reader is another. Your reputation online grows faster when you always offer legitimate value.
However, the strategies you use to publish handy content on Instagram or Twitter are different from those used on LinkedIn or YouTube. The content you publish on your blog might be a tad different from the content you post on Medium or LinkedIn Pulse. It is advisable that you do your homework well before you can post. Remember that conversation in the digital arena should sound like one-on-one talks.
Defining a workable content strategy is easy! The trick is identifying your target audience, listen to them and ideas will begin trickling in automatically. Jolt down all these ideas flowing in your head for proper execution.
Having trouble developing ideas? Following are questions that can set the pace for you:
- What industry are you interested in? what are the trends and innovations in the said industry? Be sure to include trends that anger, worry or excite you.
- What challenges do your face in your business? This question helps you craft “How to…” solutions-oriented posts.
- What queries do you receive from the bigger ratio of your audience? Could you research their problems and reply with solutions?
Google Listing: Claim and Verify Your Position
When researching on Google, do you notice that some companies have their contact details showing on a column on the right side of SERPs? This happens when you list your business on Google.
Your credibility as a brand heightens when you get listed on Google. Prospects can find about you with ease when you claim and verify your company’s information online. This strategy converts since information verified on Google listing is 100% correct. Be sure to keep updating the details in the event there are changes in your business like shifting of physical address or rebranding.
You have an edge over many unverified businesses since you have the privilege to appear on every Google application. Google applications include Google Maps, Google Search and many more. The good news is signing up for Google’s business listing consumes less than 10 minutes.
Control Your Reviews Online
Online reviews about your business should worry you with reference to reputation. Over 90% of prospects will choose not to do business with you should they find poor ratings online. Solid ORM strategies are a must if most of your rates online are below four stars.
Customer and employee reviews have a great impact on your business. These two need a lot of caution.
Glassdoor is an infamous website where employees – satisfied and dissatisfied, post reviews about major aspects of their present or former workplaces. Here, you find feedback about companies’ pros and cons, top executives’ efficiency, and salary information.
If you are looking to manage reviews and have more positive feedback on glassdoor, build a good relationship with your employees. This way, they will leave positive feedback about your business should they choose to look for greener pastures or change careers.
Another beast to take care of is customer reviews. How do you attract positive feedback from your customers? Create a call-to-action on your website, emails, or in physical business premises. After offering services to your clients, request them to leave feedback online. You should come up with a solid review management tactic.
Consider Public Relations and Third-Party Credibility
You cannot blow your own trumpet online and expect prospects to take your word for it. They are more interested in reading what previous customers are saying about your products and services before they can transact with you. This means your business credibility largely hangs on what your clients say out there and not what you tell prospects.
As an effective ORM strategy, you need to craft a good digital PR plan. Reach out to authority publications and submit though leadership write-ups. Even if these are your words, top tier websites command respect. Appearing in these publications shows that you are credible enough. Regular contribution to authoritative publications helps you rank higher on Google.
Another proven method of earning third-party credibility is through mentions and quotes in authority blogs. All you need to do is create a good rapport with the editors and journalists. Pitch your ideas whenever you find the blogs publishing articles that relate to your business.
A good avenue to get kickstart your PR campaigns is HARO. HARO is a website consisting of diverse journalists who ask for experts’ advice in certain industries.
Yet another method to increase your credibility online is through the application of industry awards. You must have noticed companies that bag accolades after accolades. In return, customers run to them for their products and services. Note down several top awards coming up throughout the year. Read through the terms and conditions and throw your applications.
This guide has highlighted major methods businesses and business owners can use to manage their online reputation. While one cannot please every customer, you must push the negative reviews down the SERPs. Many clients focus on the top results on Google results.
When increasing your credibility online you want to put various strategies into proper use. These include:
- Ensuring all your online platforms replicate your present reputation, brand identity, and ethics
- Making sure every information that is online vis-à-vis your company is correct and reliable
- Use comprehensible language when publishing content on your business website. Describe your company’s activities online in a clear and concise manner
- Nurture a helpful user experience from the beginning to the end
- Pay heed to every feedback coming from customers and reply to negative comments with useful, actionable answers